chapter  XIII
18 Pages

The Mādhyamika, Vijñānavāda and Vedānta Absolutism

FOR a critical student of Indian Philosophy the different Absolutisms present one of the crucial but unsolved problems. We are confronted with the Sunya of the Madhyamika, the Vijfiaptimatrata of the Vijfianavadin, the Brahman of the

Vedanta, Isvaradvaita of the Pratyabhijfia system, Sabda Brahman of the VaiyakaraJ)as and possibly other advaitisms. It is a commonly held notion that there is no real difference between the absolutes of these systems; the differences are superficial and pertain only to terminology. Why then does the Vedanta refute the Madhyamika, and the Madhyamika the Vijfianavada and vice versa, to mention only a few instances? 1 We are asked to believe that owing either to their faulty understanding of each other's philosophy or to religious fanaticism, they mistook a friend for a foe; hence the severe polemic found in each system against the others. It is even suggested that the refutations have been wilfully indulged in. Stcherbatsky says for example:

There is but little difference between Buddhism and Vedanta ... a circumstance which Sailkara carefully conceals. But in later works, e.g. Vedanta Paribha$a or Nyaya Makaranda, different pram3.J;las are established as proofs for the existence of Brahman. When commenting upon Vedanta Sutras, II, ii, 28, Sailkara, in combating Buddhist idealism, resorts to arguments of which he himself does not believe a word, since they are arguments which the most genuine realist would use. He then argues not sva-matena, but paramatam asritya, a method very much in vogue among Indian Pandits. Deussen's interpretation of this point, (Op. cit. p. 260) as intended to vindicate vyavahara satya, is a misunderstanding, since the Buddhists never denied the vyavahara or saihvrti. Against M. Walleser's

(Der altere Vedanta p. 43) opinion that the objectivity of our ideas themselves is meant, it must be pointed out that the Buddhists did not deny the jiHinakara, and Sailkara clearly states that external objects, not ideas, are meant-tasma.d artha-jiianayor bhedal;l.1